YouTuber Justin Chandler, a video game blogger who goes by the screen name KOSDFF, recently moved into a home in Cobb County, Georgia, with several other YouTubers, where he planned to make and upload videos. However, that plan was temporarily thwarted by local government officials.
Chandler reportedly received a notification from his Homeowner's Association earlier this week, informing him that uploading videos for profit in his own home counts as running a business, which presents a problem in a residential zone, according to Cobb County code. Gaming website Kotaku reported that the housemates could have potentially faced $136 in fines per day and, if they failed to comply, possible eviction.
Im not kidding. Guy just told me I can't upload to YouTube from my home https://t.co/9g8iNH5qJH— Justin Chandler (@Justin Chandler)1484062546.0
Chandler said it was a neighbor who reported the group to the HOA, which passed the case on to local administrators, when they got frustrated about where a car was parked.
In a video explaining his situation, Chandler, who says he has a background in law, outlined the problems presented by the Cobb County officials' demands.
"This extremely unique and rare scenario poses the question: [Does] filming and uploading YouTube videos from your home constitute the home as a business?" he asked. "Does it matter how many views I have or how much income I make from it? Because to be honest, I do the same thing millions of other Americans do."
However, Dana Johnson, head of community development in Cobb County, offered a different take in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The county issued a "notice of violation" because there were too many unrelated people living in the same house, where they were all making YouTube videos without a business license.
"There are specific rules for running a business out of your home, which differs from those in a commercial area, to ensure that the residential integrity of neighborhoods are not compromised," she told the AJC.
Since the news broke about Chandler's predicament, some neighboring counties have allegedly invited the crew to live there in order to sidestep the issues in Cobb County. However, the YouTuber was determined to solve the problem.
On Wednesday, Chandler got his business license, which cost him $470, and, luckily for him, the county apparently decided to waive the single-family issue after local officials saw his video on the matter — and noticed the traction it was getting.
Sp apparently the county watched my video and reconsidered. We have to apply for some stuff etc and if it gets approved we can stay :D— Justin Chandler (@Justin Chandler)1484155103.0
Again I'd like to point out that the county enforcement officer is a champion. Great dude. Has been extremely helpful.— Justin Chandler (@Justin Chandler)1484155167.0
As Kotaku's Nathan Grayson pointed out, Chandler is most certainly in an interesting situation. Nevertheless, this is probably not the last time such a controversy will arise.
To be fair, I don’t think it’s some heinous breach of citizens’ rights that Chandler and co had to apply for a business license. It’s not exactly outrageous to suggest that, yeah, a house full of YouTubers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers each probably counts as some sort of business. You don’t generally establish a YouTuber paradise fortress without the intention of making a buck or two. It’s also unlikely that your county is gonna come and bang down your door unless, say, you piss off somebody in a homeowner’s association or other third-party body. But I doubt all cases will be so clear cut. I suppose we’ll see.